Archive for March, 2011

And lastly, we made a tasty Clove Cake during the recent
open hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House.
We used the following receipt from The American Farmer,
which was edited by John S. Skinner and published
in Baltimore, Maryland (1828):

Clove Cake.
Three pounds of flour, one of butter,
one of sugar, three eggs, two spoonfuls
of cloves—mix with molasses.

Pretty easy, yes? Interestingly, the exact same receipt, word
for word, can be found in The Cook Not Mad, or Rational Cookery,
which was published in Watertown, New York in 1830.

Now, the above receipt (recipe) would most likely make several
cakes, so we cut everything in thirds. Doing so made for one
nice-sized (and delicious!) cake.


First, Marilyn grinds up the cloves:

Nadia works with the cake batter:

our Clove Cake, fresh off the coals:

Everything was done, and we were ready to eat; HUZZAH!

of course, a plate of chicken for myself:

everyone’s having a yummy meal AND a great time:

one Carrot Pudding is gone and the second is going fast:

digging into the Clove Cake:

the chicken was pretty much picked clean:

the fire’s dying down, the day is waning:

a lovely day of hearth cooking at The Crane House has come to an end:

Farewell ’til next time!

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Of course, we included bread as part of the “Simple Mid-Day Meal”
that we created during the hearth cooking class held at The Israel
Crane House
about a week ago (March 19). Using Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s
receipt for “Saleratus Biscuit” in her cookbook The Kentucky Housewife
as our guide, we made a couple of batches. Participants churned some
creamy butter, as well:


Mrs. Bryan’s receipt from The Kentucky Housewife (1839):

Saleratus Biscuit.
Sift a quart of flour, sprinkle into
it a salt-spoonful of salt, and rub
into it one ounce of butter. Pour
half a tea-cupful of boiling water
on a small tea-spoonful of saleratus,
let it stand to dissolve, and then stir
it into enough sour milk to make the
flour into rather a soft dough. Knead
it but very little, flour your hands,
make it into small biscuits, and bake
them in rather a hasty oven. In using
saleratus or pearlash, for any kind
of cake or bread, be sure to dissolve
it in boiling water or sour milk, and
make up the bread with sour milk;
otherwise, it will not rise so well.
Pearlash biscuit may be made
in the same manner.

NOTES: We cut the amounts to about half. We didn’t have saleratus,
or potash/pearlash, so we used baking soda as a substitute. Yes,
I could’ve acquired some from Deb Peterson, but I had to consider
the expense and our class budget. Maybe next time! And so, we
didn’t bother with the “boiling water” portion. Of course, I made
dozens and dozens of biscuits during my years at Conner Prairie,
and it’s something I can do with my eyes closed. Basically, I relied
on that past experience, and the formula I used (which was akin
to Bryan’s receipt), to make these biscuits.

We did use sour milk, and it was made by adding a tablespoon
of vinegar to one cup of milk, then allowing it to “clabber.” It was
slowly stirred into all the other ingredients, which had been mixed
well together previously. Our dough was then hand-patted out on
a floured board, and the individual biscuits cut out with a tin cutter
(the one I’d made last summer at Old Sturbridge Village). They were
placed in a tin pie pan (which I’d bought in the OSV Gift Shop, also
last summer), and baked.


NEXT: and finally, our Clove Cake

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As you may know, I’m a Big Fan of carrot puddings. Not sure why,
but I am just fascinated with them! I enjoy making them, and I’ve
whipped up quite a few in past years. Maybe it’s because they’re
just so delicious! I even wrote here several times last fall about
my various carrot pudding-making adventures.

And so we made this dish during Saturday’s “Simple Mid-Day Meal”
hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House. Naturally, we used
my favorite receipt (recipe) from the 18th century work E. Kidder’s
Receipts of Pastry and Cookery

A Carrot Pudding.
Boyl 2 large carrots, when cold pound
them, in a mortar, strain them thro [sic]
a sive, mix them nth [with] two grated
biskets, 1/2 a pound of butter, sack
and Orange flower water, Sugar and
a little Salt, a pint of cream mixt with
7 yolks of eggs and two whites, beat
these together and put them in a dish
covered and garnished. “Good”*


“Boyl 2 large carrots” (we used three medium-sizeds)

pound them and “strain them thro a sive”

Nadia hard at work

the previously-made Naples Biskets, soon to become “two grated biskets”

enough batter for two puddings

ready for baking




*handwritten commentary on the original receipt


NEXT: our biscuits

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This past Saturday’s hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House
was a HUGE success. HUZZAH! Everyone had a fantastic time as we
prepared, cooked, and, of course, ate, several dishes, all as part of our
“Simple Mid-Day Meal.” It was such great fun working with new and

old friends creating sumptuous dishes from the past. Of course, there
are lots and lots of photos to share, so I’ll be posting them, along with
all the historic receipts (recipes) we used, during the next few days.

Let’s get started!


First up, a dish that reminded everyone of what we’ve seen prepared
so often on all those cooking shows. However, it’s from Joseph Cooper’s
17th century The Art of Cookery Refin’d and Augmented (1654):

An Excellent Way to Roast Pigeons or Chickens.
Prepare them to trusse; then make
a farcing-meat with Marrow or Beefe
filet, with the liver of the Fowle minced
very small; and mixe with it grated Bread,
the yolkes of hard Eggs minced, Mace and
Nutmeg beat, the tops of Thyme minced
very small, and Salt: incorporate all these
together with hard Eggs and a little Verjuice,
then cut the skin off the Fowle betwixt the
legs and the body, before it is trussed, and
put in your finger to raise the skin from
the flesh, but take care you break not the
skin; then farce it full with this meat, and
trusse the leggs close to keep in the meat;
then spit them and roast them, setting
a dish under to save the Gravy, which mixe
with a little Claret, sliced Nutmeg, a little
of that farced meat, and Salt; then give it
two or three walms on the fire, and beat
it up thick with the yolk of a raw Egg and
a piece of Butter, with a little minc’d Lemmon
and serve it up in the dish with the Fowle.

[Note: sadly, due to time limits, we didn’t make the gravy]


preparing the “farcing-meat”

first, the farce-meat was placed “betwixt” the skin and flesh

we “trusse the leggs close”

“then spit them”

“and roast them”

mmm-mm-mmmm, lookin’ mighty good ‘n tasty!


NEXT: our Carrot Pudding

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We’ll be making a carrot pudding during our hearth cooking class,
“A Simple Mid-Day Meal,” this coming Saturday at The Israel Crane
. Of course, my favorite receipt (recipe) will be used, which
as my regular readers know, is from Kidder’s Receipts for Pastry
and Cookery
(1740s). And it calls for the use of…Naples Biskets!

So, I’ve been busy baking. This time, however, just to mix things
up a bit, I decided to use a receipt that’s different from “my usual.
I chose John Nott’s version from his The Cooks and Confectioners
(1726). Incidentally, it’s the same receipt that we used
during the brick oven historic baking workshop at Ft. Lee this past
summer (as part of Deb Peterson’s Symposium). Now, one of the
major differences between this receipt and my “usual” is its use
of caroway seeds. Which, by the way, are to be “finely powdered.”
Yep, time to get out the mortar and pestle!

Nott’s receipt requires “double-refined Sugar,” as well. Superfine
Sugar found at most groceries is perfect to use, and I had some,
but, unfortunately, not enough. I really didn’t want to run out to
buy more, so I made my own:

I think you can see the difference. Here’s the “regular” sugar:

and the “pounded” or “powdered” sugar:

Finally, I was ready to mix up the Naples Bisket batter, pour it into
individual ramekins, and slide them into the oven:

In an effort to make it go faster, and so I wouldn’t have to bake
more batches than necessary, I used every ramekin I have, no
matter what the shape. Both ceramic and tin. In the end, however,
some worked better than others. (more on that later)


Oooooh, pretty!

I think they turned out pretty well, yes?

Here’s Nott’s receipt:

To make Naples Biskets.
Take a Pound and half of fine Flour, and
as much double-refined Sugar, twelve Eggs,
three Spoonfuls of rose-water, and an Ounce
and half of Carraway-seeds finely powdered,
mix them all well together with Water; then
put them into tin-plates, and bake them
in a moderate Oven, dissolve some Sugar
in Water, and glaze them over.

(NOTE: I didn’t bother with the glaze.)

Now, a pound and a half of flour is roughly the equivalent of six
cups in modern measurements. Which would mean a boat-load
of Naples Biskets! I really only need two, if that. Well, and maybe
a few for folks to try on Saturday. So I cut all the measurements
in half. I still ended up with a seemingly endless quantity. Doing
so made for a much more manageable batter, as well.

Of course, these taste quite differently than my “usuals.” It’s not
bad, just different. The caraway seeds lend a hint of rye bread,
of course. I did put in the rosewater. Sometimes I leave it out,
because, well, it’s just over-powering. Reminds me of the smell
of ladies “lounges” (restrooms) back in the day of such things.
But it wasn’t bad. In fact, I hardly noticed it. Maybe the caraway
taste helps to mask it? The tops of them are interesting, too.
Even without the glaze, they still kinda shine (see photo above).
They easily flake off, as well. Not good! And I usually don’t have
trouble getting them out of the baking dishes, but I had a heck
of a time with these. I didn’t butter them at first, but even when
I did, they still stuck like glue. Not sure what that’s all about. Ahh
well, I may just stick with the other receipt from now on!

In any event, it was fun to try something different. And we’ll
definitely put these Naples Biskets to good use this weekend.

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As many of you probably know by now, I’ll be teaching “A Simple Mid-Day Meal,”
an open-hearth cooking class, this coming
Saturday at The Israel Crane House.*
I’m so excited! It’s gonna be fun.

Naturally, there have been alot of things
to deal with beforehand. I’ve been quite
busy off ‘n on for the past month or so
planning everything, whether putting
together the menu or doing research
on the historic receipts (recipes) to be
used or finding specific ingredients.

I decided early on that we’d prepare four
or five dishes, consisting of at least a meat,
one or two sides, and a bread. As usual,
I just started looking through one historic
cookbook and then another and another, jotting down ideas and potential
choices as I went. Of course, in doing this, I had to be aware of several
factors, including our time limit, the equipment available at the Crane
House, and the likely range of the skill levels of those attending. And
I wanted to try to be as true to the current season as possible, just as
a family like the Cranes would’ve been back in the early 19th century.
I tell ya, that list of potential dishes changed daily at the beginning!
Eventually, I settled on the following: roasted chicken; carrot pudding;
biscuits, with freshly churned butter; and clove cake.

Interestingly, after I’d typed up my “Receipt Sheets” that I give to each
participant, and which contain all pertinent information for the above
dishes, I suddenly noticed that the selected receipts were from not
one, but from three different centuries: the 17th; 18th; and the 19th.
So our “Simple Mid-Day Meal” will be a culinary journey through time!
And it’ll be a delicious trek, I’m sure. HUZZAH!


*“A Simple Mid-Day Meal” hearth cooking class will be held
at the Israel Crane House in Montclair, NJ, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
on March 19, 2011. For more information or to register please visit
the Montclair Historical Society’s website:

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A few months ago, the folks in charge of foodways at Colonial
initiated a bi-weekly feature on the institution’s
website. Entitled “History is Served,” it showcases an historic
receipt (recipe) from a colonial-era cookbook, complete with
a modern adaptation for use in one’s own kitchen. Assorted
background information is often given, as well, including slide
shows and/or videos.

One of the early segments dealt with boiled carrot puddings.
Now, as all my frequent readers know, I’ve made quite a few
carrot puddings and have written about my experiences here

at Historic Cookery. At the same time, however, although I’ve
done several boiled puddings, none of them were carrot. Yep,
all of my carrot puddings were baked.

Even so, my enthusiasm abounds for CW’s recent “History is
Served” entry. Why? Because the best part is its accompanying
video, which presents an excellent tutorial on the particulars of
doing any boiled pudding. Watch and learn. It’s simply fantastic!

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